Jumping Into Business with Both Feet

You can keep the day job and build your business slowly, or jump in with both feet and sink or swim. Which one did you choose?


Both feet


A young artist recently told the story of her startup. She had assisted another artist with a thriving business, and learned how to market, how much she could earn, and that it was a viable option for her.

Then, she quit her day job and moved to another state where she planned to start that new business. Instead of searching for another job to sustain her, she worked on her new venture full-time. Everything looked good. She could earn enough to get by, and did extensive planning and preparation given her experiences and knowledge.

Then, she got rained out of a show. Undaunted, she moved on to the next one, which went pretty well. It was encouraging. Two more shows ended up being losing propositions. Private gigs that she had lined up fell through. She started losing money, and maxing her credit cards. A sense of panic set in.

What happened? On paper, every show had good attendance, and good weather. Commissions were regular, and didn’t get cancelled. There were no rough seas. But that’s not how it turned out.

Rather than throw in the towel, she immediately started researching opportunities in her local area, and creating marketing materials. She got busy with social media networking as well. Things started to slowly turn around. She finally feels that she’s back on the right path, although she admits that succeeding is harder than she ever believed.

Most artists don’t take this route. They gradually build their creative business on the side, either keeping it part-time or hoping to work into a full-time job. It’s a safer choice, and more practical, especially if you have a mortgage, a family to support and bills to pay. And it doesn’t create the sense of panic that our entrepreneurial artist went through.

But, there is an upside to jumping in with both feet. There is an immediacy to the experience, with intense involvement and commitment necessary. You must find a way to sell what you make or what you do, and this creates a high level of motivation. If you need a kick to get started, there is nothing like having to earn income from your art business to pay the rent. Having savings to fall back on, and being single or having minimal bills helps smooth the way.

Which one did you choose? Did you dive in undaunted, and find a way to make it all work? Or did you build your business slowly and thoughtfully, one step at a time? What would you recommend to other artists?


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  1. This is an interesting article and does point out an obvious potential outcome. Personally, I’ve worked to make my financial life simple and build a cushion so I can jump in with both feet. Also, I know that if things don’t work out, I can return to my current way of working to earn income.

    Personally, spending 8 hours in an office working for someone else all day leaves me with little mental energy to continue working on personal projects at night – no matter how motivated I am. I’m looking forward to dropping the 8-hr days for awhile to focus 100% on my art business goals. I have a plan in place and feel the dedicated and undistracted time will be keys to my success.

    • Albert, It makes perfect sense that working in an office all day leaves little time to really get your best work done. Depending on the person, jumping in with both feet can be an empowering, motivating experience that can make all the difference in one’s success.

  2. I work an office job for 9 hours a day and half days on Fridays. I don’t do much of anything here and we have some pretty lenient bosses. So I’ve been trying to work on marketing my art and learning about the art business at my day job. But when I get home I’m exhausted to even get in the studio and paint. I’ve actually tried something a little more unconventional and that’s going to bed really early (7PM) and waking early so I can get some painting done before I go to work. This only works well for me in the winter though. I wish I was brave enough or had a cushion to be able to jump in with both feet.

    • Heather, you are not alone! Many artists find that if they carve out early-morning hours or times of the day when they can arrange to be alone and get studio work done, they accomplish more. It’s no surprise that a full-time job is exhausting. Do you have weekend hours you can block off? Once you find a system that works for you, tell your family and ask their cooperation in not bothering you during those times, so that you can maximize your production.

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